Fewer Patients, Better Care? Proposed Bill Seeks to Limit Patient-to-Nurse Ratio.

May 1st, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death

Tennessee medical malpractice
Seriously ill patients in hospitals depend on competent nursing care when needed; but when there is a shortage of nurses and they are overworked and exhausted, the result is risk to patient safety and their lives. To prevent these problems, there is now a proposed Congressional bill, House Bill 867, that would limit the number of patients Pennsylvania nurses can care for at one time. The bill bases the nurse-to-patient ratio on the type of hospital unit, with a 1:2 or fewer ratio proposed for intensive care units and a 1:4 or fewer ratio for emergency departments. Advocates of the bill cite the ratio mandate already in California, which has proven to be cost-effective, produce better health outcomes and create openings for job-seeking nurses.   The hospital industry opposes the legislation, arguing that there is not enough research to support it, there are not enough nurses to meet the lower ratio, and that staffing mandates would force facilities to close. Nurses disagree and have appealed to the House committee, saying that having too many patients leads to making mistakes and giving poor care. They believe that better nurse/patient ratios dramatically improve safety…

Roy J. Burkett v. St. Francis Country House, 2018 Phila. Ct. Com. Pl. LEXIS 45 (August 1, 2018) Rau, J.

August 6th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Wrongful Death

In this case, Roy Burkett, Jr., son of decedent, had to rush his mother into hospice care where she later died.  Suit followed.  The court found that the mandatory binding arbitration clause is unenforceable because it was unconscionable under the circumstances.  Further, defendant Arch Diocese of Philadelphia did not even sign the admissions agreement and therefore was not binding.  Therefore, the survival action, as well as the wrongful death action, can go forward.  The evidence was that there was a very quick signing of the document, no meaningful discussion.  It was told that the mediation was “voluntary.”  The court found that Mr. Burkett credibly testified that the administrative person did not explain the mandatory arbitration clause or what arbitration was.  The court found that Mr. Burkett did not understand that signing the admissions agreement with a mandatory binding arbitration clause meant that he would be giving up his mother’s right to a jury trial for claims she would have.  He did not opt out of mandatory binding arbitration clause because he was not aware that it was a possibility.  There was insufficient explanation.  It was a grievance procedure and it…

Time for Transportation to Take Sleep Apnea Seriously

March 21st, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Car Accidents, Wrongful Death

Sleep apnea can be a cause of vehicle crashes, so it has been a major concern for transportation safety advocates for years. The condition causes fatigue, and commercial drivers who are fatigued can doze off, a dangerous situation when they are driving large commercial vehicles or trains. The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that 22 million Americans have sleep apnea and that 80 percent of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) cases are undiagnosed. A recent study from the University of California, San Francisco, concluded that 41 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers could have OSA. And a March 2016 study from the University of Minnesota, Morris, found that drivers who do not follow their prescribed treatment for OSA are five times more likely to be involved in a crash than other drivers. Recently, sleep apnea led to two commuter railroad accidents within 13 weeks of one another.  In September 2016, a New Jersey Transit train failed to stop and struck a wall of the terminal, killing one woman and injuring 110 other people. In January 2017, a Long Island Rail Road commuter train  crashed into a room beyond the end of the track,…


February 28th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Wrongful Death

Del Ciotto v. Pennsylvania Hospital of the University of Penn Health System, 2017 Pa. Super. 412 (December 27, 2017) Solano, J.  In this complex case, decedent’s relatives did not sign the arbitration agreement.  In Pisano, the court held that a wrongful death claim is not subject to arbitration unless decedent’s relatives who are the wrongful death claimants sign the relevant arbitration agreement.  The relative, Del Ciotto, did not sign the agreement in his individual capacity.  There was a specific signature block for an individual signature.  Del Ciotto did not sign on that line.  The instruction was that the signature block should be signed but it was not.  By not signing on the Patient Representative’s Individual Capacity line, Del Ciotto made clear that he did not agree that he was signing as a party in his individual capacity and therefore the agreement did not apply to him.  The case will be sent to trial on the wrongful death claim.  The court also cited to Taylor.

2 killed in Pennsylvania motorcycle accident

June 30th, 2016 by Rieders Travis in Wrongful Death

A husband and wife in Pennsylvania recently lost their lives in a tragic wreck. The motorcycle accident is said to have occurred on June 24, in Indiana County. The driver deemed responsible for the crash also failed to survive the event. According to local reports, a 46-year-old male and a 44-year-old female were riding their motorcycle on Route 286 when their vehicle was struck by a car. The driver of the automobile -- a 65-year-old male -- is believed to have lost control of his car at a curve in the road. This caused his sedan to slide sideways across the centerline, hitting the motorcycle. The driver of the motorcycle died at the scene of accident, while his wife was transported to a hospital where she was pronounced dead. The driver of the car also died at the scene of the crash. Police still have not indicated what may have caused the man to lose control of his vehicle. All three individuals involved in this wreck are said to have died as a result of blunt force trauma. This motorcycle accident was certainly a tragic event, one that has, undoubtedly,…

Jury agrees emergency room errors resulted in unborn baby’s death

June 21st, 2016 by Rieders Travis in Wrongful Death

A woman in another state has won her medical malpractice case in court. This is said to be a rare victory, as many of these cases are often settled out-of-court. The plaintiff claimed emergency room errors led to the death of her unborn son. Diagnostic and treatment errors do occur at hospitals all across the country, Pennsylvania included. When this does happen, just as this woman did, it is okay to question liability. It was recently reported that a mother was awarded a $2.5 million verdict in her case against the hospital staff that treated her for a hematoma. The woman -- 38-year-old at the time -- was 35 weeks pregnant when she began having serious abdominal pain. She went to a local emergency room where she was diagnosed with gallstones and a hematoma. The physician that treated her, instead of admitting her for observation -- despite her being considered a high risk pregnancy -- sent her home with a prescription for pain pills. A day later, one of the plaintiff's daughters found her at home, nearly unresponsive, and called an ambulance. After being admitted to the hospital, doctors found that…


June 17th, 2016 by Rieders Travis in Wrongful Death

Page v. Moses Taylor Hospital, Civil No. 11 CV 1402 (C.P. Lackawanna May 24, 2016) Nealon, J.  In paragraph 77 of the original Complaint, plaintiff sought to recover damages for her loss of the twins' society, comfort and companionship.  AND NOW, this 24th day of May, 2016, upon consideration of "Defendant, Michael J. Kush, M.D.'s Motion in Limine to Preclude any Grief/Solatium/Bereavement Damages Under the Wrongful Death Act" and the "Motion in Limine of Defendants, Physicians Health Alliance, Inc., Francis E. Hamm, M.D. and Kristine M. McNulty, M.D., to Preclude any Evidence Regarding Grief/Solatium/Bereavement Damages Under the Wrongful Death Act," and based upon the reasoning set forth above, it is hereby ORDERED and DECREED that "Defendant, Michael J. Kush, M.D.'s Motion in Limine to Preclude any Grief/Solatium/Bereavement Damages Under the Wrongful Death Act" and the "Motion in Limine of Defendants, Physicians Health Alliance, KInc., Francis E. Hamm, M.D. and Kristine M. McNulty, M.D., to Preclude any Evidence Regarding Grief/Solatium/Bereavement Damages Under the Wrongful Death Act" are both DENIED.

1 killed in single vehicle car accident in Pennsylvania

May 23rd, 2016 by Rieders Travis in Wrongful Death

A single vehicle accident in Pennsylvania is currently being investigated by authorities. The car accident reportedly occurred in Bethel Park on May 15. A teenage boy was killed in the wreck. According to local reports, the crash happened at around 1 a.m., on a local road. A resident of the area says that a car struck a tree and a fire hydrant before coming to a stop. A 16-year-old teenager, who was riding in the back seat of the vehicle, suffered critical injuries and was transported to an area hospital. He later died. It is unknown if the driver or other passenger suffered any injuries in the wreck. The victim was a football player in high school. According to his coach, he was a hard working, quality human being. This is certainly a devastating loss for his family and friends. At this time, police have not indicated what may have led to the crash. The investigation is still ongoing. It is unknown if any charges are pending against the driver. A fatal car accident can leave surviving family members with numerous questions, which is completely understandable. Some questions might include:…


March 29th, 2016 by Rieders Travis in Wrongful Death

MacPherson v. Magee Memorial Hospital, 128 A.3d 1209 (Pa. Super. 2015).  After a long line of cases throwing out arbitration clauses, this en banc opinion finds an arbitration clause, predispute, in a nursing home setting to be valid.  The court therefore reversed and remanded the case for proceedings consistent with the opinion.  The lower court had thrown out the arbitration request.  Dissenting opinions are filed by three justices, one of whom, David Wecht, is now on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.  The court distinguished prior decisions by saying they were applicable only to wrongful death claims brought on behalf of beneficiaries designated in 42 Pa.C.S. § 8301(b).  Personal representatives proceeding pursuant to § 8301(d), however, are bound by otherwise enforceable arbitration agreements signed by a decedent.  Under the Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Statute, recovery passes to the limited group of beneficiaries defined in the statute.  § 8301(d) was an action by a personal representative where no person is eligible to recover damages and therefore the personal representatives of the deceased may bring an action and recover damages for reasonable hospital, nursing, medical, funeral expenses and expenses of administration necessitated by reason…

Pennsylvania car accident: Head-on crash kills 2

March 28th, 2016 by Rieders Travis in Wrongful Death

Authorities in Pennsylvania are currently investigating the cause of a fatal head-on collision. This car accident reportedly occurred the evening of March 23, in Dauphin County. Both drivers died at the scene. According to reports, police were called to the scene of a two-vehicle car crash on Route 39 in South Hanover Township. It is believed that the driver of a car crossed into oncoming traffic and struck a small SUV head-on. Both drivers -- males, whose ages were not reported -- died of their injuries. Investigators say that neither of these individuals was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. The road near the accident scene was closed for several hours while investigators and cleanup crews worked. At this time, authorities have not determined what caused the individual responsible for this crash to cross the centerline of traffic. The investigation into this incident is still ongoing. A fatal car accident such as this one can leave the family members of all those involved with a lot of questions. Sadly, getting the answers needed for closure can take some time. Thankfully, answers will come, and the victim's surviving…